Friday, November 09, 2012

Mastodon Weekend 2012: A Pause

It's not that I do not want to write about the surreal experience of the latest Mastodon Weekend and first completed Half Marathon in Greenville, SC with the people I consider my second family.

But, writing at the moment is limited to gigs (such as my recap of the semifinal match in the PokerStars All-Star Showdown between Galfond and Cates) from the man with the busted toe who finished a mere 12 seconds ahead of me at the 13.1 mile race (see below), and school work which you can sample my "work" on the lack of girls getting into physical and computer science positions.

The man in the circle would be me (Photo cred linked

But instead of an inward look at what that weekend meant to me (in due time because my chaffed nipples still rise from thinking about it) this is what I have been working on:

Females Chasing the Career Goal Line in Computer and Physical Sciences

Type “Sam Gordon” into a web browser and the viewer will see girl dominating the male sport of football.  She literally throws her nine-year-old male counterparts aside with speed and agility that they cannot match.  This is rarity seeing females play the very physical sport of American Football where hulking males grow their bodies to obscene sizes and pummel each other with hits that can rival a car crash.  Women for the most part do not want to tune their bodies in this manner thus only a handful of women even reach the college ranks, like Katie Hnida who plays college’s top rank of Division 1-A for the New Mexico Lobos.  Even then playing the mostly non-contact position of kicker as the sport of football is deemed desirable to males only.  What about activities that do not involve 300 pound people try to tear limbs from each other in pursuit of a goal line?  Take computer science for example as Tillberg and Cohoon state “the growing gender divide in computer science is one of the more perplexing phenomena on college campuses today, especially considering the rising number of high school girls taking advanced science and math courses” (Tillberg & Cohoon, 2005).  Like football, younger girls are taking an interest in the game more and more, so why would girls taking the advanced placement-type math and science courses not be drawn towards the computer science majors and careers? 
The answer lies within sexist and biased surroundings as most girls are not drawn towards majors like computer science because “prior research into choice of major or career generally has focused on personality factors that lead to a particular career path and identified ability, self efficacy, expectancy value, interest and congruence, and barriers and support as key components of whether a student chooses or rejects a particular major” (Tillberg & Cohoon, 2005).  Instead of allowing girls in high school and college to lean towards what they are good at objectively, they are subjectively pushed towards a major because of social factors instead.  This sort of peer and society pressure would dissuade would-be female computer science and physical science majors.  Thus, adding a layer of barriers for girls who have a genuine interest and talent for the computer and physical sciences to follow-through on a path that would grab an advanced degree and eventually work in these fields. 
Awards programs such as ADVANCE given through the Professional Opportunities for Women in Research and Education (POWRE) are meant to consider balancing career and family the most significant challenge facing women scientists and engineers today. Based on these results, institutions must seek to remove or at least lower these and other barriers to attract and retain women scientists and engineers” (Rosser, 2004).  The POWRE group notes in a questionnaire that “60.3% of the respondents name balancing work with family responsibilities as the significant challenge to women scientist” (Rosser, 2004).  In this case, women scientists tend to put raising a family more important than furthering their careers, following an entrenched sexual stereotype that women should be the nurturing sex versus the hunter and gatherer. 
Studies, such as the POWRE group’s, show why there are a lack of female computer and physical science majors. Teenage and younger girls are drawn and/or pushed towards believing that raising a family is more important than expanding their minds and developing academically towards a career that suits their talent.  Take the internet sensation Sam Gordon, if she were male showing this kind of dominance on the football field, there would be coaching trying to recruit her to train with them and hone her skills in hopes of parlaying that into a college scholarship or even a National Football League (professional American Football) contract worth millions of dollars.  Instead, Sam will likely play for a few more years until her competition’s physiques reach the point where her parents feel it is no longer safe for her to play thus wasting a potential talent.  How many girls testing high in science aptitude are turned away in a similar manner?  Lacking the parental or peer guidance to bring what could be a blossoming career in computer or physical science, many girls also let this talent shown at a younger age go to waste.


Rosser, S. V. (2004). Using POWRE to ADVANCE: Institutional Barriers Identified by Women Scientists and Engineers. NWSA Journal , 50-78.
Tillberg, H. K., & Cohoon, J. M. (2005). Attracting Women to the CS Major. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies , 126-140.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The last .2 miles

If you have the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed

- David Viscott

March 2010 I was sitting in a hotel room a few miles from downtown Greenville, SC wrapping up my first experience of the not-quite-AARP party known as “Mastodon Weekend”. It was not my first go around with these characters as for the last near decade people who prodded me to stop commenting and start writing for myself would meet up in random places such as Key West, Minneapolis, Chicago, Allentown, and of course Vegas for the annual WPBT.

During my last day there I would fire up my then non-infested Gateway laptop (DAMN YOU GOOGLE REDIRECT VIRUS!) and log on to the Rasmussen College online college screen for the first time.

It was scary.

I have not read a textbook in over 13 years at that point. All of my academic knowledge from getting an Associate’s degree was wiped from a mix of head injury, malaise, and an over excited worker from a back-alley strip joint after we compared inner thigh bruises. Needless to say, I was a true freshman again. No varsity letter, no multiple accelerated courses, no near perfect scores in Math and Science on the ACT test. Just a head full of rum and IPAs from Barley’s Taproom in Greenville checking out the new classes for which the next three years would take up nearly all of my free time.

In March 2012 there was another big change to my relatively straight-laced life as a married with children suburban warrior. People within the WPBT group had started running for fun/sport/competition as seen by the half-dozen brave souls that marched down Las Vegas Boulevard for the Rock and Roll half-marathon. As I stood on the curb in front of Mandalay Bay holding a six pack of Stellas for the runners, happy they attained their goals of not only finishing this grueling amount, but mostly surpassing their expectations.

Selfishly, I wanted that.

I miss competing in sports, which was given up for pursuit of academia. Nights were not spent coming home from a doubleheader at the softball field, instead my ass would make neat contours on the beige sectional with books showing titles such as “Business Ethics”, “American Literature”, and “How to speak like a doctor without knowing Latin”. Writing assignments, projects, mandatory discussion posts, accounting terms to learn for a CPA exam plus more. Add on kids activities, mending a marriage and meeting my wife for a second time and seeing her as my best friend instead of a source of stress and you got nothing but busy instead of living.

Then during a PokerStars tournament series I asked Otis about his running and how to start up. Which I did, and also tapped the running clean-up hitter of the WPBT group, Dan for tips on sticking with it as it was announced in the spring after a year layaway that Mastodon Weekend was coming back surrounding a 5K/Half-Marathon/Marathon run. I immediately, if not sooner, signed up. Academia be damned! The 5K looked to be a solid choice as I was slowly grinding upwards from barely looping a small half-mile pond to doing two miles without having to worry about holding in my Orange Chicken and beef fried rice lunch from the local Chinese joint where the part-owner knows me by name and order.

Soon, I was up at the cabin doing loops around the dusty grounds, usually dripping Captain Morgan sweat after drinking until 2am along the unpaved roads and being completely spent after a 5K. Usually running twice during the week and always once on the weekend, but no more than three miles as darkness and research papers piled on excuses. My goal was under 27 minutes for the Spinx Run with a further goal of under 26 minutes and beers going out to my coaches should I succeed.

Then, I started getting adventurous and adding a little bit of distance each time. A half-mile to the 5K, doing two two-mile runs during the week as I started to see a little reduction in my waistline despite having the nutritional palate of your average Harrah’s buffet patron. More time was carved out, more hills conquered as I started using for logging the runs because as a former/current stat geek, I loved seeing the numbers behind each hill and turn around where I played T-Ball over 30 years ago.

One day instead of turning right toward the Junior High, along of row houses that double in value versus my own, I went straight. Winding around, uphill, and along the border of the city. The path was nicely carved out but I didn’t know that until I passed a small box of sand with a jungle gym and slide. Further down a steep decline the path curved into a stretch that could only be described as a top five place to hide a body in Maple Grove. Beautiful, but secluded without much foot traffic. After not being weighed down by a cement block for skimming from the mob, I passed through the lake/swamp area only to be met by not one but two inclines that I akin to the curves on Scarlet Johansson

And I made it. I stopped to walk two or three times, but I made it. Time did not matter, ability to feel anything below my belly button did not matter, seeing straight did not matter. I made it.

Not since I played hockey or baseball in high school had I felt this way about a sport because I worked my way up to this.

But, that run started something bigger. People prodded, if you can go that far, why not go a little bit more? And so in August, I started adding miles and pace because instead of running a 5K without much thought of time, I would cast into a group of runners for the half-marathon. After paying the sizable “upgrade” fee there was no backing out. A mile added to the long run each week. Pace added to shorter runs during the week.

Fast forward to this weekend’s Autumn Classic at Elm Creek. I signed up for a 10K to give me barometer of whether or not I have a chance to finish competitively in three weeks by breaking two hours in the half-marathon. I went with a goal of 52:45 in mind as this was a little bit faster than the goal (9:10/mile) for the half. It got crushed like a Vikings fan’s soul during the 1998 NFC Championship game. I finished in 98th place with a time of 50:31 (8:09/mile pace) .

Also in October I started my third to last quarter with the dreaded Advanced Tax Theory course that most accounting student spit in disgust when hearing its name called. Luckily the professor is armed with an understanding that tax is not the easy subject in the world and allows for questions of those seeing the other side of a tax preparation for the first time.

While getting that gold tassel seemed so far away back in that Hampton Inn hotel room, now the finish line with family and friends holding out a beer for me is just a few blocks away.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Other Sport

Monday night in Golden Valley. The air was calm, the field perfectly mowed crosses, and the temperature was as perfect as baby bear’s porridge. Every reason for an old athlete to step into a pair of white size 13s with one neat black shoelace contrasting the other thin leather lace that was purchased at a gas station and more fit for a hiking boot. But, the player didn’t care. He was free to step away from parenting, school, and responsibility for the next two hours or however long it took to decide the balance of two fall beer league games. The teammates mostly other number crunchers for state’s biggest retailer shed their bullseyes for a softball on their chest that appears to be hit by Zeus.

The opponents, younger and wanting victory more than the mere act of showing up for entertainment or a break from the sometimes grind of ones parenting and career driven schedule. They fill up a cliché checklist of douchebagettes: flat-brimmed hat tilted at 15 degrees with nationally accepted sport s team that they don’t even watch, long basketball shorts perfectly pressed, arm tribal tat, and the need to yell “WHOOOOOOO!” after every hit, run, error, or out. They attempt to quash the fun, make the 15 minute ride to the park, alone for once, not worthy of taking free-time to regain a minute piece of younger days.

But, over the Jersey Shore-rejects black painted wire mesh dugout is a path. Neatly striped with green divider lines and encasing the two softball areas with a loop that also branches beyond the 300 foot marker in left over a railroad crossing and up a steep hill and disappearing into trees. The first baseman managed to scoop up a few throws in the dirt and found the arm cannon a little rusty but still able to fire an accurate bullet and steal the cocky kid’s thunder after throwing him out at home after a short-hop hit the side fence. He would launch a tirade worthy of Ozzie Guillen or Bobby Cox or Earl Weaver if you’re so inclined. The red never wavered, with an icy calmness of a man that’s all-in holding pocket nines and no card under a jack sitting on the board. But, the first baseman just jogged off the field to take another look at that path and the runners that he never gave a second look to.

These people seemed to just popped out over the past five or six months. Driving home, the bright pink jacket with ear buds and some kind of wrist watch she kept pecking at. The sweaty guy with strides that resembled a pee-pee dance shuffled up the back road bridges incline turning into work around 6am. Walking with the kids to a spot about two blocks from the home where they can throw a few rocks from a mini-peninsula into a pond, there’s a older woman who never fails to impress with a pace that shows she does this often.

As the game wore on, more yelling with faux Brooklyn accents, and despite the close score of 17-16 in the seventh and final inning, the activity of the path seemed more interesting. Four high school aged girls with running shorts and t-shirts proclaiming not “call me maybe” but rather “cross country” zoom by as the sun took a dip behind the swampy area beyond the opposite field’s fence. A older gentleman was being assisted by likely his middle-aged son from the adjacent assisted care building. But, there was no pity, maybe some envy that he was free to walk the path while I stood on the field fenced in with ten people that I am more accustomed to see in Vegas. While the teammates were great examples of people you’d want to sit in the back parking lot where the rules state not to imbibe in beverages, the other team made the experience as tolerable as sitting line for Space Mountain in the middle of the summer.  McKayla was not impressed.


Moved on perhaps? Running, while not the most exciting thing in the world, has at least added a goal. Something to shoot for, something to reach, something to do besides meld with a laptop and couch as schooling nears its conclusion next June. Since the ball does not fly off the bat like it once did, nor the glove snagging a hard-hit liner that tails away from pursuing glove, this new endeavor gives the old athlete a new goal that can continuously be stored and re-newed at anytime.

While the meatheads head off to bang some bitches and pound some PBRs, and a good night is waved to my fellow victorious teammates, my thoughts are on tomorrow and practicing to reach 5KM in 27 minutes with good friends spanning this country waiting at the finish line. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It is done for a reason

Ugh.  Wanted to hit up Al's new-ish poker site Face Up Gaming this weekend but ran into 6,000 words of homework and a double reporting night at PokerStarsBlog. 

There were real words and real bad grammar mistakes to be posted right here as well, but my laptop has been funky and locked out this site from posting as well as not hooking up correctly with Facebook. 

Reason for not posting lately?  My schedule yesterday:

4:30am - Wake up
4:35am - "Are you going to take your hands off my boobs yet?"
4:37am - "No"
4:45am - 5:15am Get kids dressed, in car, drop off at day care
6:00am - 4:30pm Work, work, WORK, work
4:55pm - Get home, throw clothes off for Mets vs. Dodgers game, put approprite coaching gear on
5:15pm - At ballpark to warm up the pitchers
5:30pm - 7:00pm Mets win 4-1 as they rally in the fourth once again as the other team's pitching staffs consist of 2 or 3 kids who can actually throw it within a city block of the plate, my staff has seven.  Suck it Dodgers from rich part of the city
7:30pm - Grab Leaann Chin's to-go (overpriced, under-flavored, but local chinese is already closing up for the night)
7:45pm - Wolf down food and go on a 2.25 mile run, purposely hitting big hills, and keeping a little under 9:00/mile pace.  Replace stress with sweat.
8:30pm - After shower, tell kids to head to bed
8:42pm - Physically remove kids from porch place in bathroom to brush teeth
8:46pm - Remind son that toothpaste does not go in sister's hair
8:48pm - Place female child in bed as daughter still requests Black Eyed Peas to sleep to.  (walk away dejected)
8:51pm - Place male child in bed with Bomb Bird Angry Bird head blanket, he demands AC/DC Live (faith in my spawns is revived)
9:00pm - Watched "Chopped" Grill Week and muse that unless Ted Allen tells me there's microwavable mac n' cheese or eggs in my basket, Geoffrey Zakarian is probably going to throw the plate at me

9:30pm - Start weekly homework that was neglected yesterday due to having fun with the kids and turning baking myself into the same color of that wild boar the Chopped chefs had to do something with
11:00pm - Body finally gives up as I wake up with my overweight cat staring at me judgementally
11:04pm - "Really??!?  Must you?!!?" 

Two weeks until summer time, no homework, all fun and maybe a little time for posting.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Scribbles From the Writer Formerly Known as Drizz

“Best of the lousiest and the lousiest of the best”.

It is the theme call for a local radio station KFAN’s “The Common Man” who brings excellent wit to his daily sports and off-topic talk show from Noon – 2pm. Growing up this exemplifies my wanderings into athletes as either was picking splinters out of my bony ass on an upper division team or one of the better players on the lower division. After a while and much acne, self-image, and depression issues, the younger version of me just gave in to mediocrity and only played on teams against inferior opponents, not stretching whatever ability my 110 pound frame could muster.

Academics came easier but eventually fell into the same category as the baseball diamond or hockey rink as trying to get laid (and failing like your basic teenage movie about the wonders of growing up as a sulking kid without a stereotype or direction) became much more important. Yes, the conversation with past me would contain several “WAKE THE FUCK UP YOU MOPPING SHITHEAD!”. Instead of going off to a foreign land like Tempe, Arizona with the sole intention of spending tens of thousands of American Dollars on 10-packs of soft Taco Bell tacos and gallon sized under aged marked up bottles of Karkov vodka to spend a year learning that application of one’s self is a direct correlation to how people treat you.

As I watch my boy take the hard turn on a raised go-kart track, cutting off the 34 year old mother who visited the Kalahari bar for the six-shot Grey Goose Green Lantern special a couple of times before sending a few four-letter words in the direction of my little Jeff Gordon, there I saw my motivation. Again while arguing with my wife of eleven years, something clicked, something unlatched like a series of tumblers finally unlocking as for the past years and especially for the past few months a shell of myself turned into asshole-mode (with the except of a certain weekend to celebrate one Bobby Bracelet’s journey to minivan-land).

It was finding the medium between working as hard as possible at the highest level and still retaining the mindset of the child inside of my adult form (which has many lumps BUT I’M WORKING ON IT!  ). I probably have drafted some 30-odd kick-ass posts from Twins baseball (suck, suck, but getting me interested with every game they score most than one run and SURLY BEER AT TARGET FIELD!!  (it’s not Furious, but the aptly named “Bandwagon”), and yes even a poker post or three as I played a few hours while in Vegas last month (and went home a losing poker player for the first time, RIGGED!).

But, life gets in the way, kids need their pizza cut in exact shapes, and and and and yeah excuses come out instead of pushing yourself to do what you should at the effort level that little person inside your headspot is telling you at least give. The result might not be there like me getting back into the sporting arena with running (28:00 at the Goldy’s Run 5K *flex*) or getting stuffed numerous times playing beach volleyball by people you would normally be wrapping the word “Spaulding” around their forehead but can’t since your vertical turned into more of a horizontal uplift powered by a Yugo motor.

At least I’m in the game again. Parenting, writing, athletics for never-were’s, and even a little poker despite our government’s best intentions on killing a hobby that started this little journey into typing more than 140 characters at a time.

Yesterday I wrote “Life should overwhlem you at times, because if it doesn't, it means you have given up”. It’s time to start earning the quote but this time keeping both eyes open for what I’m missing.  And stop being a dick.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Have Never Been to Vegas for a Bachelor's Party

While I have made several trips to a city that I have a love-hate relationship with. One that has chewed my soul like a tough cut of beef and soothed me like a new episode of Big Bang Theory with original jokes of Sheldon being Sheldon, I’m up an hour before work because a swarm of angry bees invaded my headspot with words that needed to make some honey, or at least a piece of dried out honeycomb.

My friend Brad (no not that Brad) chose a life of God and yesterday while on Facebook as he does from time to time while trying to interject on my life of “sin” to bring the word of God to my world. Which causes a free-thinker such as myself to step back and wonder “am I doing it wrong?”.

Then I remembered, that I am unburdened from such thoughts because there is no absolute right and wrong. The person in the mirror is the person’s rules that I follow or choose to live by. He is basically a tape recorder for which every single piece of life has already been drafted in a book containing a hymn, a verse for life’s entire context. And that’s OK. If a man chooses to feel guilty from placing their penis into a woman or a 120 ounce bottle of Heinz ketchup that he picked up at Costco because John 3:19 says so, that’s OK.

My parents still trying to nudge (not push) to get me to “go to church” because they claim my children need it. They are the most caring, loving, unselfish people I will ever know but if I were to ask why and explain why I chose to be human and life my life without knowing what will happen next it may cause a riff similar to a gay man or woman trying to explain their sexuality to homophobe.

I don’t want to be “saved”, I don’t want play a verse when I’m feeling like shit because I got too drunk and yelled at people, I don’t want to be part of the Borg, an un-thinking being of a collective.

There are some religious people who get it right. They craft those words into their own interpretation and go from there. Which is how a human should live. They should be “in sin” and free to meander within their own rules, not someone else’s. Be free to fuck up royally and learn from it. I know I certainly have. Life is not a sitcom as people like Brad would like to believe, scripted with a laugh track unyielding to life’s unknown future. I have no idea what is going to happen this weekend, and I don’t want to know because playing out the future in present time does not allow you enjoy that tingle of sitting at a bar after too many tequila shots talking smack about your favorite football teams with a toothbrush salesman from Ohio and a stripper with a giant ying-yang tattoo emblazed across her ass.

I wish Brad the best on his journey through life as he already knows what’s going to happen. Me? Well, you get to read about those flaws here as I have a blank page and perhaps a couple of front row seats to Thunder Down Under in my future.

One more day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Senior Challenge

It was a common Freshman college night. Not getting laid again, getting bullied by the 21 year old from New York who stayed in the Freshman dorm because he wanted to knock around some feeble Midwestern kid trying to make heads and tails of all the sudden freedom he was exposed to. Prior to this, his life was nothing but responsibilities, go to school, take the advance placements courses, play baseball, work part-time job 15 minutes away, pray 85’ hatchback Nova does not break down, do homework, rinse and repeat. 37 year old soon-to-be Senior looks back at the 18 year old Freshman and shakes his head at the kid walking into the two bedroom dorm surrounded by fellow drunks as another tequila race was being set.

Four shots of Cuervo , three Gold, one 1800 at the end. Which after slamming back the last one to “win” the race made the Freshman proclaim victory and defeat all in a span on 15 minutes after receiving high fives like he just hit a game-winner from the top of the key, the Freshman’s body was not attuned to just alcohol normally flipping through a weekend night in Karkov with cranberry juice or making a Keystone Light beeramid.

After a night of projectile puke in nearly orifice of the bathroom, the Freshman was slowly learning about peer pressure. The Senior now more mature (HA!), more experienced would turn down such challenges but still reserves the right to make a fool out of himself at any given time because frankly that is what he does. It took a head injury, near divorce, two children, and life rebirth to figure out that it’s ok to go balls to the wall, it cleanses the soul to let out the person behind the corporate job and loving father and loyal husband just don't try to down a bottle of tequila while doing so.

Pic cred

But, there’s a difference between the Freshman and the Senior. One gave in to peer pressure without an end-game, just throwing his body at whatever, whenever. The other thinks before giving into a rum filled dream-like state or taking on a challenge. Now, it’s the Freshman’s turn to laugh at the elder and shake his head at the quest before him. Old, creaky, numb, the Freshman could spirit past the elder statesman backwards and shout insults normally reserved for Sunday morning AWA Wrestling with Mean Gene Okerlund separating The Animal and Baron Von Raschke’s deadly CLAW.

About a month ago there were whispers of a possible Mastodon Weekend revival but with an event open for those who have flocked to the healthier side of degeneracy and started running. The Senior had been watching the Facebook updates of his friends for over a year shaking his no as the pursuit of a college degree has drained nearly all free-time and energy to workout. “Sally ran 3.9 miles in 28.43mins burning 279 calories! As told by Nike WingTracker!”. This time the peer pressure would come from not booze fueled prop bets but summoning my expanding ass to stand up and carve out enough time to attempt to laugh at The Freshman. Granted he weighed 120 in full hockey gear and could run a sub six-minute mile without breaking a sweat while the Senior takes nine minutes for the same distance and nearly collapses into a slushy salt lick.

So it’s on. Even if the gathering does not materialize, the peer pressure of running has tipped over my last empty shot of tequila, as for the past two weeks I have hit the icy roads six different times in my hometown to find what many of my friends have enjoyed. A quiet cadence of putting foot in front of New Balance-filled foot, watching bare snow-lined tree come and fade as another corner is turned until the legs cannot give anymore.

The Senior looks at the Freshman with a glare that says “challenge accepted”. The goal? To run a half-marathon by next year with no stopping after the Senior become the Graduate.

See you on the path.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

WPBT 2011: The Attack of the Re-served Fish


image cred

The next day was spent with an itinerary, a mission, and on objective. No, pale, taller Jack Bauer was not going to stop a terrorist plot unless Al-Qaeda was going to hit a golf course, casino, or a wonderfully delicious Japanese restaurant tucked into a strip mall inside Vegas’ adjacent Chinatown.

The only explosions would be coming from a borrowed driver as F-Train was kind enough to pick up three people of Nordic stock in myself, Pebbles, and Bam-Bam along with my now awake and caffeinated roommate Joe Speaker were ready to destroy the course and clubhouse bar (in some cases one more than the other). Not everyone plays slots at 3am half-drunk in their pajamas before golf?


Meeting up with Dr. Chako and friend we split up into a foursome (Doc, Pebbles, Bam-Bam, and Doc’s friend) while I taught F-Train and Joe Speaker on the finer points of the Lebron James outline to perfect golf.

a) Win lots of money performing well in the regular season

b) Shut down like a five year old who didn’t get their naps and refuses to eat the asparagus

Long Drive? Check. Closest to Pin? Check. Skins? Check. Raving Speaker on giving me strokes and shooting near par for the first time in my life? Youbetcha.

However when the second half came and like Mr. James' ability to flop in the playoffs, so did my swing, my shoulder, and my chances of winning as Speaker’s brand of golf billiards using poor, defenseless winged animals as rails would prove to be victorious this day as dusk rapidly approached and many beers and stories needed to be consumes within the spacious bar/clubhouse.

Back to the strip after nearly paying for my round thanks to Speaker’s Taylor Made Burner driver and a lofty 6 iron that sailed with the majestic flow of a seagull about to land on a sea-hardened wooden pier. Quick change and we were off again, this time for what has become a tradition for myself and many WPBT’ers. A nice sit down meal that does not involve 70s rockers, salad troughs, or former Penthouse Pets dancing behind frosted screens (lets make this one a reality, but they better serve excellent hot wings).

A green rectangular sign stating “Chinatown” similar to “Maple Grove” when I drive home was past as this was my first adventure or even knowledge that such a town existed next to the monuments of gambling. Raku meaning “Charcoal Grill House Enjoyment” according to the website has an alternate meaning that would be shared by those who sat down at the very table pictured on the front page of the website.


A wave with an undercurrent of food soon graced our table as many pleaded for a second or third stomach as giant pitchers of Sapporo were the only constant along with the banter consistent with just intelligent minds pouring over fish made six different ways and in some cases remade. Personally, there it was only my second time being forced to use chopsticks, the first being a family meal with a Korean friend but his mother was kind enough to take two tongue depressors with a spacer and tape them together as his soon-to-be restaurateur younger sister giggle at the American trying to pick up squid with them.

I will leave the culinary critique to those that actually have eaten or cooked with half the ingredients used on Chopped, and are used to fine dining as my experience with dinners that cost as much as my family’s weekly grocery bill is limited to these yearly splurges. Make no mistake, I soaked in every ounce that I could in conversation, atmosphere, and beer. And despite the lack of a fortune cookie at the end of the meal, Raku is for you. Then again the people surrounding this table could make the buffet at Excalibur seem like a Michelin award winning spread.

My memory is a little fuzzy by this point as the next memory is waking up SOBER (getting old?) for the WPBT tournament at Aria. And that will need to wait for another day.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Death and Rebirth of a Salesman

I wrote this after reading Death of a Saleman for the first time.  Yes, I'm probably the only 37 year old on the planet who has never seen a play or read this masterpiece.

But, it hit the spot. 

Here's what I wrote for the discussion in class:

What scared me after reading Death of a Salesman is I saw a little of Biff and Willy in my own life. Willy for the way he works himself to the bone, feels empty inside while grinding out a living because there is no ultimate happiness. Willy: “I know it when I walk in. They seem to laugh at me” (Klinkowitz & Wallace, 2007, p.2341) . No matter how many awards I have won at work, grades achieved, or even the smiles on my kid’s faces, I always think someone is still laughing at me. Despite irreplaceable friendships it was not always like that, it felt forced like I shoved myself into other people’s lives instead of being invited. The grind that Willy was on is similar to what I face. Getting up daily at 4:30am, home after 5pm, and I am typing this around 10pm because after helping with dinner, folding laundry, and tucking the kids in bed I finally get a chance to read a story that touched me a little bit. Sure, my life is nowhere near the mess of Biff or Willy as I have great group of friends, loving wife who does not blindly follow me, but there’s a emptiness, one that make me wonder why I’m still fighting the insecurities of yesteryears and the prospect of not fulfilling the grand life my parents thought their genius son should have (much like Willy talking up Biff too much).

Biff : “I am not a leader of men, Willy, and neither are you” (Klinkowitz & Wallace, 2007, p.2388). It took a head injury, and several years of depression to realize that I enjoy working and that becoming a manager was not the end game, but instead finding work worth doing would keep me hungry to be alive. Writing has a cathartic effect; I can splash my dark feelings onto a page and cast them away like a minnow on a hook ready to hit the lake. Luckily, I stuck with it long enough so I can earn a little coin for my words on the weekends writing about a game that I enjoy due to its social aspect and now after several years at Target there’s work waiting for me in about eight hours that someone cares about, including me.

I could have taken the easy road like Willy, but instead I found the ability like Biff to take stock in who I am, versus who people want me to be and start anew.

Monday, January 30, 2012

2011 WPBT: Here We Go Again

Whitesnake firmly in your ear now?  Good.  Keep it in while reading.

I feel like a smoker having to sneak out behind a building under a rock just to take a drag and bathe in Febreeze before jumping back into cubicallandia.

Yes it’s been awhile, a long while, and like most people my schedule has taken a turn for the busy going on busier after wrapping up Event #48 of the Turbo Championship of Online Poker at PokerStarsBlog Sunday afternoon, there was still a two-hour audit risk assessment memo to write for one of my classes.

A couple of ice cubes in a tall glass with rum and Diet Dr. Pepper cured the nerves enough to sleep. But, nearly two month ago (TWO?!?!?) holy shit time does not stop. Ok, at the beginning of December likeminded individuals gathered once again in the land that Steve Wynn, Fried Twinkies, and $500 Captain and Cokes can be guzzled to your heart’s content.

The 2011 WPBT continued the tradition of meeting fellow degenerates that disguise themselves as people who have their shit together by cloaking their bodies with professional –looking fabrics, massive vocabularies, and college degrees. Yet, we all meet up to take off those things for three to four days in the desert to be people again. Stripped down to a bunch of smiles and real life, no hiding within an Armani suit or perfect hand gestures learned at a corporation’s build-a-better manager seminar.

You get to be you. And if that you happens to enjoy playing slot machines at 4am with a rum and coke in your pajamas, rock the flannels for all they’re worth.

My WPBT started quickly as after I touched down and waited for my roommate to saunter in from California, a little slot play was needed and after losing $50 or so, I was just about to go back up to the room when some magnetic force pulled me to the Rockin Olives bank of slots at the Monte Carlo. While chatting it up with a local who had plenty of cash but chilling after his friend the MLB headed back home, I was more interested in asking questions about his friend. Yes, he has worked a World Series, yes some players are actually pretty cool to chat with, and yes he gets great seats whenever he wants.

Then, my machine started going nutso immediately after breaking the drink seal (since I did not get the 1st class upgrade like last year). JACKPOT! Jumping, overtipping, hand-shaking commenced immediately as I get too excited about these types of things, when working in accounting you can’t too excited about the large numbers in the ledgers since they will never be yours. After filling out my first W-9 it was time for a quick drink at Sherwood Forest.

Quick because the AlCantExperience was bored and needed large drinks and large betting at the Palms for the Pokerati PLO/NLHE game. After a double SoCo/water back for him, usual for me as well and catching up with a friend who’s success I was very happy to hear about (Epic Poker) as we made it into the game for a few hours as one of my favorite reads on Twitter @Alexpokerguy was minding his own business, and politely tapped me on the shoulder when a group of bridesmaids with EPIC ASS gathered in the adjacent high limit slot room. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

After another drink at with Al, it was time to head back to the Sherwood Forest for craps (lost but won because I was surrounded by a table of WPBT go’ers who actually knew what they were doing), and settled in for some PAI GOW with Speaker, Maigrey, Chilly who watched me bet on another guy’s bonus spot and hit a straight flush, then 30 minutes later I hit my own with the seventh card being the same color but different suit and one pip off of a seven-card straight flush. It is my unicorn, and one day I will catch it.

Anything that happened from there to rockin my PJs at 4am before golf is a blur and I apologize if I got 86’d again because you people make this guy too happy just to be there.

I won’t say when the recap on golf, tournament, meeting up with my brother, Raku, LOSING MY VOICE, Rock and Roll half-marathon with several NAKED GUYS and several deep chats will appear on this page. But, I can say.

Thank you for your support. And boobs.